Born on May 17, 1924, French baritone Gabriel Bacquier would be one of the greatest of his country to step onto the opera stage.
His interest in music started from his youth and he would enter the Paris Conservatoire in 1945, before graduating in 1950.
His opera career would kick off in style when he joined the company of José Beckmans before becoming a member of La Monnaie in Brussels. It was during his time at La Monnaie that he would develop his talent in the French repertoire.
From there he would develop tremendous success at his home opera house where he would sing a number of major roles. He would also star at Vienna State Opera and La Scala, before embarking on a successful career in the United States. His first stop was the Lyric Opera of Chicago and then the Metropolitan Opera. He was one of few French singers to develop a lengthy career at the Met, appearing in 18 consecutive seasons.
He also appeared in a number of new operas, including “Pour un Don Quichotte,” “La Véridique Histoire du Docteur,” and Paul Danblon’s “Cyrano de Bergerac,” among others.
He was distinguished throughout his career, earning status as Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, among others. He also won a number of prizes for his recordings, including the Prix du Disque for “L’Heure Espagnole” and “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” Other career highlights also included appearing in films and teaching in his later years.
He left an extensive discography that emphasizes his varied repertoire with noted recordings of “Otello,” Don Giovanni,” “Le Nozze di Figaro,” “Manon, “Thaïs,” and “Les Contes d’Hoffmann,” among others.
The baritone had a number of major roles throughout his career. He was recognized for his work as Golaud in Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande,” but he worked hard to develop his work in the Italian repertoire.
At the Metropolitan Opera he performed Scarpia in “Tosca” more than any other role and his interpretation of the villains in “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” is legendary.
Watch and Listen
Here is an audio recording of “Tosca” featuring Bacquier alongside Franco Corelli and Antonietta Stella.
Bacquier was also a well-known comic actor, which is evident in this video of “Falstaff.”